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Dansby Swanson is Not the Answer for the Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies are in the market to land a marquee shortstop, but Dansby Swanson is one name they should not consider.
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Dave Dombrowski and company have made it clear: the Philadelphia Phillies are big game hunting on the free agent shortstop market this offseason. Among the names they've been connected to, Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts seem to be the most frequently talked-about options that suit the Phillies' needs.

Turner provides a distinct contact, speed, and power combination that Philadelphia has notably lacked for many years, while Bogaerts is one of the more underrated hitters of the last half-decade. Both of their defensive profiles took leaps forward during the 2022 season, making them viable options at the shortstop position going forward.

However, it goes without saying that the Phillies are one of the lesser teams defensively throughout baseball. As such, it would stand to reason that they go looking for a more sure-thing at one of the most defensively intense positions on the field.

That pursuit would point the team in the direction of Dansby Swanson, the best free agent infield glove on the market.

Swanson finally broke out in 2022, nearly achieving a 20/20 season, and accruing a whopping 6.4 fWAR across 162 games. On the surface, the former Atlanta Brave would appear a strong match for the Phils: his elite glove could solidify their somewhat-improved infield defense, while also providing some thump at the plate, and a major presence in the clubhouse.

But Philadelphia is in need of a top-of-the-order bat in their desired shortstop, and Swanson's 2022 season is a clear outlier to an otherwise mediocre career offensively. The 28-year-old has managed a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 94 over his first 827 games played, below average. Pair that with a career on-base percentage of .321 and a hardly exciting career .417 slugging percentage, and one would likely feel more comfortable slotting Swanson in the bottom half of the lineup, rather than the top.

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Most worrisome of all however are Swanson's strikeout numbers.

Over each of the last three seasons, the former first overall pick has posted a strikeout percentage exceeding 25%. Last season, Swanson struck out 26.1% of the time, the 16th highest rate among qualified hitters. When coupled with a dreadful 8.6% career walk rate, it becomes hard to argue for the shortstop's bat as he ages.

For the 2023 season, Fangraphs' predictive metrics engine, Steamer, has Swanson slated for a paltry year offensively. A projected slash line of .247/.310/.413 hardly comes close to the kind of bat the Phillies are searching for.

To be clear, Dansby Swanson is obviously not a bad baseball player. He is arguably the best defensive shortstop in the game at the moment, and carries a surprising amount of thump in his bat, but, he simply doesn't make sense for an already strikeout-prone, power-heavy lineup like that of the Phillies.

For the money he's due, Swanson appears a poor investment. He'll surely satisfy some team's need for a long-term, defense-first solution at short, but that team should not be the Philadelphia Phillies.

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